26 ordained to permanent diaconate

SOUTH END -- Twenty-six men were ordained to the permanent diaconate at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 31.

The new deacons are: Thomas Anthony, Robert F. Breen, Gregory J. Burch, Jesus Castillo, Anthony J. Constantino, Joseph M. Fagan, Jr., Charles A. Ferraro, Richard P. Field, Jr., David R. Ghioni, Frederick B. Horgan, Alejandro Iraola, Pedro LaTorre, Brian Laws, Michael Markham, Francis McHugh, Michael Mott, Van Nguyen, Jorge A. Patino, Jose Perez-Rodrigues, Victor R. Rivero, Manuel A. Rosario, Edwin J. Robinson, Jr., Neil J. Sumner, James G. Theriault, Julio C. Vargas and Edin Velasquez. Deacon Alfredo Nieves was ordained at a special ceremony on Dec. 23, 2007.

The ordination began with the Liturgy of the Word, which was followed by the rite of ordination.

The ceremony was a bi-lingual service since nine of the ordinandi are Spanish-speakers. The first reading was in English, the second in Spanish and the Gospel was read in both languages. While delivering most of his homily in English, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley also addressed the nine men in their native tongue.

He said in Spanish that the disciples’ inheritance was the Lord, and they gave up everything for him. Jesus Christ called them to an intimate relationship with him and asked them to follow in his footsteps, he said.

Speaking in English, Cardinal O’Malley said it is a great challenge to follow in the footsteps of the “greatest servant in the world.”

Like Philip in the Gospel, the men are called to proclaim the good news about Jesus, he said.

The cardinal told the men, “The Spirit will act through your words and actions as you preach and baptize.”

Then, he called on the ordinandi to be good and faithful servants and to be content to do “difficult things in an unassuming way.”

“To be a real deacon, one must have the desire to serve with all that implies -- hard work, a healthy dose of humility, a sense of loyalty and an identification with the one whom we serve,” he said. “Ordination is a gift from God to those who are willing to make a gift of themselves.”

As the rite of ordination continued after the homily, the two men who are not married -- Alejandro Iraola and Manuel Rosario -- made a commitment to celibacy. After his ordination, a permanent deacon cannot marry.

Then, each candidate individually approached Cardinal O’Malley who was seated in front of the altar. They affirmed their intention to serve as deacons with a “deepened spirit of prayer” and made a promise of obedience to the cardinal and his successors.

The ordinandi lay prostrate during the Litany of Saints, which was followed by the laying on of hands -- the moment in which the Holy Spirit is conferred by the bishop and the deacon is ordained.

Next, the deacons were vested with the stole and dalmatic, which signify the office of diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist, and they were presented with the book of the Gospels. At the kiss of peace, the newly ordained greeted each other and other clergy members.

During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, many of the deacons served as eucharistic ministers, and many of their wives presented the gifts.

At the close of the Mass, Cardinal O’Malley invited the crowd to applaud the men for saying “yes” to the Lord and to their vocation to the deaconate.

Deacon Gregory Burch, a convert to the Catholic faith, told The Pilot that the ordination was “joyful” and “emotional.”

Burch, from Holy Family Parish in Concord, said he had no choice but to respond to God’s call to the diaconate.

“There was no choice. There was just an internal calling,” he said.

His wife, Marilyn Mudry, added, “I really cannot believe yet that the Holy Spirit has blessed my husband, me and our family in this way.”

Mudry said she is very grateful for all the prayers offered for her family during her husband’s preparation for the diaconate.

Deacon Julio Vargas from the Dominican Republic said he was attracted to the diaconate because he wanted to serve others.

“There are a lot of ministers needed to work for the people of God,” said Deacon Vargas of Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence.

Deacon Alejandro Iraola echoed his words, saying that he felt called to serve his community and work closely with Jesus. Iraola, who lives in Chelsea, is not married and took a vow of celibacy at the ordination.

Deacon Iraola said he spent much time in prayer and discerned that God was calling him to the particular vocation of the diaconate.

“God called me,” he said. “Everything is for God and not for me.”